Divorce For Dummies book cover

Divorce For Dummies

By: John Ventura and Mary Reed Published: 03-03-2009

Since Divorce For Dummies, 2nd Edition published in 2005, there have been considerable changes in collaborative divorces, common law marriages, same sex marriages, visitation, and even custody laws (from children to pets). Divorce For Dummies, 3rd Edition includes 25 percent new, revised, and refreshed material covering all of the above.

Articles From Divorce For Dummies

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5 results
Divorce For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Cheat Sheet / Updated 02-23-2022

If you’re going through a divorce, basic decisions need to be made with your spouse. Interview divorce attorneys before you decide to hire one to help with your divorce and keep a list of national and local resources available in case you need divorce advice and support.

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After the Divorce: Dealing with Personal and Family Issues

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

After your divorce is over, you enter a new phase in your life. You may feel happier than you have felt in a long time, free of the tension and strife that plagued your marriage. Life after divorce can represent a time of personal growth, rediscovery, and new opportunities. On the other hand, being single again can be an intimidating and lonely experience — particularly if divorce was not your idea and you are unprepared for life on your own or if you have sole custody of your children. Even if you sought that custody arrangement, having full-time responsibility for your children seven days a week, night and day, can be overwhelming, not to mention exhausting. Being easy on yourself To help you adjust to all the changes in your life, avoid piling unreasonable expectations on yourself. Just do what you must to tie up the loose ends of your divorce; otherwise, take a breather and regroup mentally and physically. Although you may have big plans for what you want to do with the rest of your life, give yourself the opportunity to recover from what you've just gone through. In other words, being a little lazy — letting your house get messier than it usually is, eating fast-food dinners once in while, skipping a few workouts at the gym — is okay. Pressuring yourself to make important decisions right away, before you can think them through with a clear head, may cause you to make some mistakes you'll regret later on. On the other hand, you need to maintain those habits that make you feel good about yourself and about life in general. If you get too lazy, you may slip into a funk you can't crawl out of, which will definitely interfere with your ability to get on with your life as a single person. Taking time to reflect on what happened Try to put your recent experiences into perspective. Take time to understand why your marriage didn't work out and how you may have contributed to your marital problems. Otherwise, you may end up making the same mistakes twice. Keeping a journal is a good way to do this and therapy can be a big help, too. Accept the fact that your life is no longer the way it used to be and it never will be again. This doesn't mean that your new life has to be a disappointment — it's just different. Try to identify some benefits to your being single again (they may be hard to find at first, but they do exist). For example, you have more privacy and time to yourself, your relationship with your children is stronger, and you can sleep better because you're no longer stressed out by your divorce. Finding a support group Consider joining a divorce support group. Its members can help bolster your confidence through the inevitable down times as you rebuild your life and can provide you with advice and feedback when you encounter problems you're not sure how to handle. Becoming handy around the house Being divorced usually means having to take on new household chores — cooking, grocery shopping, balancing the checkbook, home repairs, mowing the lawn — chores your ex-spouse used to do. If you need to get up-to-speed quickly on unfamiliar household tasks, relatives and friends may be willing to give you a quick lesson (don't be ashamed to ask them for the help you need). Reading how-to books or taking classes are also good ways to acquire new skills. Soon you'll feel proud of what you can accomplish on your own and gain confidence in your ability to learn even more. Finding activities you and your children enjoy If you are a noncustodial parent, being with your kids may be awkward for all of you at first. Seeing you living in a new place and not having you in their everyday lives may feel weird to your children. To help everyone feel more comfortable and adjust to the new situation, try to avoid making every get-together a special event. Simple activities such as a trip to the grocery store, a bike ride, doing homework together, or watching a video — the kinds of things you used to do with one another — take some of the pressure off and helps reassure your kids that not everything in their lives has changed. You can reassure your kids that you're still an active parent by attending their school's open house, attending their recitals or sporting events, or joining in their scouting activities. Even if you live out of town, making it a point to show up at least a couple of times a year to lend moral support means a lot to your children and assures them that they're very important to you. If you are a noncustodial parent, don't be upset if your kids don't act overjoyed to see you when you pick them up, but then seem sad to leave you. Their initial nonchalance may be their way of protecting themselves emotionally, or it may reflect their confidence that you will always be in their lives and divorce hasn't changed your love and concern for them. Don't make assumptions about the ways your children are responding to the changes occurring in their lives. Instead, observe your children and try to understand the true reasons for their behavior. If your children are living with you but spending some nights with your former spouse, give your kids time to get used to their other parent's home and the different rules your ex may expect your children to follow. Your children may have a hard time falling asleep when they spend the night at your ex's or may act reluctant to spend time there at first, but most likely they'll adjust fairly quickly to their new living arrangement. Working at rebuilding a sense of family As you recover from your divorce, rebuilding a sense of family with your children is important. This is particularly critical if your marital problems have affected how your entire family functions. Whether you are a custodial parent, a noncustodial parent, or share custody with your spouse, your children need to feel that they're still part of a real family, which is essential to your child's sense of self-worth. To help maintain a sense of family, hold on to as many family rituals as possible, such as attending religious ceremonies with your children or arranging for all of you to spend holidays with your extended family. Think about establishing new family customs (going on an annual family vacation or taking up a new hobby with your children, for example) to make them feel as if some benefits to their new life do exist and to help your children enjoy spending time with you as a family.

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Basic Divorce Decisions

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Important and difficult decisions have to be made when you’re working out the terms of your divorce, especially if minor children are involved. Basic conditions of your divorce that need to be decided on are Who will have physical custody of your children? Who will have legal custody of your children? If you will have sole or primary child custody of your children, what visitation rights will their other parent have? Will you prepare a parenting plan? If so, what will it include? Which parent will pay child support, how much will the payments be, and when will the payments end? Who will pay for your health insurance and your children’s health coverage — you or your spouse? How will you handle child-related expenses like private school tuition, tutoring, after-school activities, summer camp, and so on? How will you and your spouse share the cost of your children’s college educations or enrollment in a trade or career school? Which of you is going to claim your children as income tax exemptions? Will you or your spouse pay the other spousal support (also known as alimony)? How much will those support payments be? How long will the spousal support payments continue? What are your marital assets and marital debts? What percentage of the value of your marital assets is each of you entitled to? What portion of the property and debts will each of you take from your marriage?

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Organizations and Resources to Help with Divorce

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

If you need financial or legal advice, or emotional support, when going through a divorce, keep this list of national, state, and local resources readily available for help: American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (312-263-6477): Through this organization, you can find a family law attorney in your area to help you with your divorce. The academy’s Web site also offers useful handbooks and articles about various aspects of divorce. The Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts (800-875-1760): This national organization certifies financial professionals as divorce planners and can refer you to a certified divorce planner (CDP) in your area. A CDP can create a specific plan for resolving the financial issues in your divorce and works hand in hand with your divorce attorney. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (800-843-5678), Child Find of America (800-I-Am-Lost), and the Polly Klaas Foundation, (or 800-587-4357): Any of these organizations can help you locate your children if your spouse disappears with them. National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233): Hotline staffers can help you develop a safety plan if you think that your spouse may become violent or if you’re in immediate danger of being attacked. They can also provide phone numbers for domestic violence resources in your area. National Foundation for Credit Counseling (800-388-2227): Go to this Web site or call the foundation’s toll-free number to be directed to an NFCC-affiliated nonprofit agency near you. The agency can provide free or low-cost credit counseling, debt-management services, and financial information. TherapistLocator.net : This Web site, a public service from the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (703-838-9808), helps you locate a marriage and family therapist in your area who can help you and your family deal with the emotional issues of divorce. Accountant: A certified public accountant (CPA) can answer questions about your family’s finances and advise you about the financial implications of the property settlement agreement you may be considering. If you need help finding a CPA near you, try 1-800 Accountant (800-222-6868 or www.1800accountant.com). Bar associations in your community and state: Local and state bar associations can refer you to family law attorneys in your area. They can also provide you with information about the code of ethics and standards that lawyers in your area must follow. You can find the phone numbers for your local and state bar associations in your area’s Yellow Page directory or by doing a Web search. Chapter of Parents Without Partners nearest you (800-637-7974 or www.parentswithoutpartners.org): This organization can help ease the stress of being a single parent by putting you in touch with other parents in your situation. Child Support Enforcement (CSE) office in your state (www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/): This state government office can assist you if you’re having trouble collecting your court-ordered child support. The Web site can take you to the CSE office for your particular state. Domestic abuse shelter in your community: A shelter can be a life-saver if you’re fearful that your spouse may become violent or if your spouse has already harmed you or your children. You can find the phone number in your local Yellow Pages under listings for “crisis intervention services” or “domestic violence services.” Memorize the number and keep it in a safe place. Religious advisor: Spiritual guidance and advice can help you make some of the difficult decisions you may face in your divorce and can help you stay calm and gain a perspective on your failed marriage. State family court in your area: You’ll head here if your divorce involves any hearings for temporary orders, if you go to trial because you and your spouse can’t work out all of the terms of your divorce, or if you or your spouse wants to change some aspect of your final agreement or the judge’s divorce court order.

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Hiring a Divorce Attorney

Article / Updated 03-26-2016

Hiring a trustworthy divorce attorney is an important decision, whether you work with them from the beginning to end of your divorce or on a limited basis. Your attorney can affect the cost, course, and outcome of your divorce. To find the right attorney to help with your divorce, ask these questions when you meet: How long have you been practicing divorce law and how many cases have you handled? If I hire you, will you or someone else with your firm handle my case? If my spouse and I can’t agree on an issue in our divorce, how would you to help us break our stalemate? Would you suggest we try mediation? Do you practice collaborative divorce law? Have you ever had a case like mine? How did you handle it? What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of my divorce case? Knowing what you know about my situation, how would you proceed if I were to hire you? If I call you, how quickly can I expect to have my calls returned? What is your hourly rate and can you give me an estimate of how much my divorce will cost? Will I have to pay you a retainer? If so, how much will it be? What sort of expenses should I expect to pay, and how much do you estimate they will be? Are there things I can do to minimize them? Will you provide me with an estimate of my expenses and an explanation of what those expenses may include? If my divorce goes to trial, will you continue to represent me or will you recommend another attorney?

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